NRS § 207.235 is the Nevada law that makes it a misdemeanor to conduct dog races for the purpose of gambling. The penalties include up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to 6 months in jail. Depending on the treatment of the dogs, defendants can also face charges for animal cruelty.
NRS 207.235 states that “a person who conducts dog racing as a gaming activity in this state is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Is dog racing illegal in Nevada?
- 2. What is the penalty for violating NRS 207.235?
- 3. How can defendants fight the allegations?
1. Is dog racing illegal in Nevada?
Yes, racing dogs is a crime in Nevada if it is done for gambling purposes.1 If there is no gambling involved, racing may be legal as long as it does not violate any animal cruelty laws.2
Conducting dog racing for gambling purposes was not always criminal in Nevada. Back in 1981, the Las Vegas Downs track in Henderson briefly held races that patrons could place bets on. But the state legislature formally outlawed the practice in 1997.3
A handful of other states do allow dog racing for gaming purposes. Casinos such as the Mandalay Bay Sports Book take bets on these out-of-state dog races. Meanwhile, organizations such as the Greyhound Protection League serve to uphold safe animal practices.
People may be surprised to learn that dog racing is an illegal form of gambling in a gaming Mecca like Nevada. But the state actually prohibits many forms of gambling such as the Lottery in order to maintain the casinos’ ascendancy. Though Nevada does permit horse racing for gaming purposes.
2. What is the penalty for violating NRS 207.235?
Conducting a dog race for gaming purposes is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The punishment is:
- Up to six months in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines4
But if the dogs are abused or killed, defendants face additional felony charges for torturing or overdriving the animals. Possible punishments include thousands in fines and several years in Nevada State Prison.5
Finally, a conviction may disqualify the defendant from obtaining or maintaining a license from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
3. How can defendants fight the allegations?
The best ways to defend against an allegation of illegal dog racing turns wholly on the circumstances of the case. The following are just three possible strategies a criminal defense attorney may utilize when fighting the charge:
- No gaming: NRS 207.235 outlaws dog racing only for gaming purposes. If the attorney can show that no gambling was involved, then the defendant should not be criminally liable under this statute.
- No racing: Letting dogs run freely on a track – even if they are wearing numbered jerseys – is not racing unless they are being timed. Unless the D.A. can show actual racing was going on, then the charge should be dismissed.
- Police misconduct: If the police may have violated the defendant’s constitutional rights by conducting an illegal arrest, search or seizure, then the attorney can file a motion to suppress asking the court to throw out the evidence found from the police’s unlawful activity. If the judge grants the motion to suppress, there is a good chance the prosecution will be left with insufficient proof and will drop the charges.
Typical evidence in these cases includes eyewitness accounts, surveillance video, smartphone video, and any recorded communications between the alleged bettors and bookies.
- NRS 207.235.
- NRS 574.100.
- 1997 Nev. AB 538
- NRS 207.235.
- NRS 574.100.